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pale cheeks & cold eyes by Dojh167

Format: One-shot
Chapters: 1
Word Count: 4,804

Rating: 12+
Warnings: No Warnings

Genres: Romance, Angst
Characters: R. Lestrange, Narcissa
Pairings: Other Pairing

First Published: 07/27/2007
Last Chapter: 08/04/2007
Last Updated: 08/04/2007

banner by lily_evans_for_life of TDA

Narcissa Malfoy is married to a rich and powerful man, a dark and terrible man. Tell herself as she might that she loves him, or even that she can learn to love him, there is something more powerful lurking in the shadows. Because Narcissa Black had known what real love was. Discovering something terrible to have happened, she finally hastens to that love, planning to settle some old buisness.

Chapter 1: pale cheeks & cold eyes
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Hello all, and thank you for wandering into my small corner of the world... or for reading my story (whichever happens to be true). 

As always, I do not own any of the characters or nothing... aint it sad? Pretty much the credit for everything here goes to the loverly Jo Rowling. And of course, the banner was made by the simply fab lily_evans_for_life.

This is my second fanfiction on this site and it is, as was my first, a one-shot. I wrote the majority on the evening of July 20th, while waiting eagerly to have DH is my hands, and so I was a bit preoccupied when working on it. However, I think it is as good as it will get for now, and so I shall bow out and allow you to enjoy (hopefully) this little story of mine:

Everything was wrong… Completely and utterly wrong.

She felt as if everything had been stolen from her. Here she was… In a torn world, in a terrible marriage… All of her childhood dreams had long since flown out the window, leaving her alone in a dark room to watch herself waste away as slowly and painfully as the paint peeling from the bare walls that surrounded her.

But she didn’t care about the fighting. She didn’t care that her younger sister had been disowned and her older sister was becoming a monster. She didn’t care that she found herself alone everyday between cold, unfeeling walls.

Of course these things all mattered and it was greatly due to them that she was falling apart…

But she knew that there was one thing that could fix it all. One thing that could set it all right again. One thing that could make it all go away and allow her to return to the blissful ignorance of her youth.

But that thing… that man… that love… Was nowhere to be found.

Narcissa Malfoy stood alone in the courtyard of the unwelcoming manor that she called home. A snow had recently fallen, and there were no disturbances in the freshly gleaming carpet of the courtyard, not even a footstep – Narcissa had been standing there for several hours.

The wind whipped gently around her in all directions. It was harsh and yet reassuring, chilling and yet soothing… She closed her eyes and felt the air on her dry, brittle lips as her hair flew around her tranquilly. And what hair… paler than the snow and more bittersweet than a thorned rose.

She was quite a sight to see; she looked so out of place, and yet as if anyplace she was would beg her to stay. But even as she stood there she wished that she could leave this place, go back to a time when everything seemed right…

“I must not cry…” she told her self in a hoarse whisper, “I must not lose my dignity.”

But she could hardly manage to get these words out of her mouth, much less obey them. Even as she stood there in the snow and wind she could feel a single tear beginning to form and slide slowly down her rigid cheek.

She wanted to let go of everything… just let it all drift away from her on the back of the cold winter’s breeze, never to return her way. But she knew that no matter how much she close her eyes, dreamed, wished, or cried it would not make anything go away…

The only possible solution was for her to be the one to go. It was the only way to escape once and for all and yet… How could she possibly do it? She had nowhere to go anymore, nobody who cared what happened to her.

There was one… He was the one to whom all of her pain and sorrow could be traced back to, and yet he was surely the only one who could make it all go away. The situation seemed impossible for the mending, but she had to try… She just had to.

With that, Narcissa brushed the snow off of her shoulders and uprooted her feet from the ground to which they had sunken into, sending glittering snow flying about.

Without looking back at the Manor she strolled determinedly out of the gate and took off down the street. She did not apparate, as was usual in the magical world, but decided to walk the long way. It would certainly take a long time for what may prove to be an upsettingly short visit, but she was in no hurry to return promptly.

She walked down many streets, inhabited by both wizards and muggles. She tread along the winding dirt road of the countryside. She finally reached the city of her destination where the usual hustle and bustle had been strangely muted.

As she walked down a side street she found herself alone. Everybody seemed to have retreated from the bitter cold that Narcissa didn’t mind in the least. It was not unusual to find streets abandoned these days, whether it was cold or not. These were dangerous times, and one was safer not to leave the comforts of their warm homes.

But Narcissa didn’t fear attack. The group that was rising in power and calling themselves the Death Eaters had no interest in her, and would not dare lay a finger on the wife of Lucius Malfoy. But she wouldn’t even object to a bit of dangerous adventure. It would certainly be a refreshing change, and if she was stolen away and unable to return to her husband… so much the better.

She did not even bother glancing about her into the alleys and shadows for predators as she entered the more dangerous part of the city. Here, in the slums, was her final destination.

She had to maneuver herself through multiple run down streets, some which were almost impossible to pass through, and stop to get her bearings several times before she finally found herself standing in the center of a rugged street, staring down at the house.

It was nastily filthy, just as all of its neighbors, with cracked windows, a collapsing roof, and coated with grime and dirt. It did not seem special at all; it was certainly not spectacular in appearance, and it wasn’t different enough from its fellows to even be worth notice. And yet, Narcissa would gladly choose it over her husband’s manor any day of the week.

She took a deep wavering breath and stepped forward, although her step faltered and for the first time she showed real hesitance. But before she could rethink her visit she had reached out a pale hand and closed it around the splintered wood of the low collapsing gate.

With a bit of effort she wrenched the gate open and found herself walking towards the door as if in some sort of trance as the gate creaked shut behind her.

The next thing that she knew she was standing directly in front of the door, and a moment later she was bringing her hand back down from the door, which she did not remember deciding to knock.

There was no reply… She was filled with mingled hope and fear that the house was empty, that they had left this place, that she had no chance of reaching them… but moments later she heard the unmistakable sounds of somebody approaching the door.

The door opened for only a split second, but the moment that she was recognized, it swung shut again, only revealing a sliver of a dark faced man.

“No, wait-” she cried, “Please, don’t go!” She was unconvinced that her cries would sway him, but she was determined that, now that she had talked herself into this foolish journey, she would not leave with nothing.

“Rodolphus Lestrange, you open this door right now! Don’t make me curse it open, because I swear I will… Unless you want to duel me then you had better stop acting like-”

But before she could finish threatening him the door swung open, silencing her at once. Hidden, just beyond the shadows, was the man who had caused her so much joy and grief, glaring at her unforgivingly.

The two stared at each other, both with angry accusatory looks etched over their faces and both in utter silence. He was everything that she had remembered: strong, determined, handsome, dark, secretive, and irresistible… The most notable thing that had changed was that he wasn’t hers any more.

“Well…” she said, her voice shaking but determined, “Are you going to invite me in?”

He said nothing, but as he did not object, Narcissa marched in, head held high but feeling as though she were one of the lowliest creatures to walk the earth.

She immedietley began taking in all that was around her. It was a very small house, and looked almost less pleasant than from the outside. It was dark, the only misty light floating in through the boarded up windows on either side. The room was bare, with what seemed to be the nasty remains of some rickety old furniture and unrecognizable shapes littered the floor in strange intervals. It looked as if this house was no stranger to duels, and had been used excessively in the practice of curses.

On the far end of the room was a closed door that Narcissa could only guess at what it was hiding, but the other door leading out of the room was open, and Narcissa craned her neck to see around it. She saw that it led to a bedroom, a little more intact than this room, but certainly not cozy. She could only just make out part of a bed which, she realized with a pang, was prepared for two: a recently married couple… She forced herself to look away painfully.

His voice came from behind her, so low that it was nearly a whisper, “You shouldn’t have come here Narcissa…”

She turned around to face him, “Yes I did. I had to come and you know it… Rodolphus.”

Neither of them spoke for a moment, and then he replied, “Then why have you come? After all of these years… Why did you come back?”

“Because!” She exclaimed, unaware of where to start, “You… You ruined everything! You left me all alone… You abandoned me when I needed you most… You wouldn’t let me come back… And you – you married my sister for Merlin’s sake!”

She was absolutely fuming, her chest heaving up and down wildly and her hands balled into fists, her nails beginning to dig into her palms. But despite this, he gave no sign of surprise at her anger or guilt at her accusations. Instead he narrowed his eyes and said in a cold voice, “And how is that charming husband of yours?”

Narcissa wanted to keep screaming, and the mention of Lucius did nothing but increase that urge. She kicked hard at something on the ground and sent it flying across the room, where it hit the wall and shattered. She did not care, for she had far worse things on her mind… And if it was something that mattered to Rodolphus, so much the better! She really wanted to hurt him right now…

“He is terrible.” She muttered darkly, “He is self centered and arrogant, he takes no notice of me, he is strict, harsh and cruel… He doesn’t let me do anything! I am like his prisoner, and now he is getting himself deeper and deeper into all of this…. dark magic stuff. He is never home and when he is he is simply ghastly! I despise him… Life with him is a complete nightmare.”

She expected some sign of pity at these words, even of jealousy or contempt if she was fortunate, but she had no such luck. He looked upon her with a strange expression that she could not read, but then his face darkened and he turned away from her.

She watched him, waiting for some sign of that man she once knew, but he seemed to have gone… The caring young man whom she had spent many glorious evenings with once upon a time seemed to have left him completely, leaving him as cold and unfeeling as an empty shell. She so badly wanted the man she loved back… But she could find no trace of him in this detached stranger who stood before her.

“Oh Rodolphus…” She whispered in a hoarse whisper that resembled a sob, “What… What has happened to you?”

He did not respond at once, but stood still, apparently staring at the blank wall facing him. Then, in a harsher voice than before said, “I have decided to join the group called the Death Eaters.”

Narcissa let out a gasp of horror, “No!” She cried, “‘dolphus… you can’t!”

He turned back to her, “can’t I?”

But she had raised her hands so her mouth and was staring at him in shock, already breaking down into tears, “No… you have no idea. It is t-to much for me!” she sobbed dryly into her hands, “I have lost all of the people who matter to me to the d-eath eaters – my sister, my h-husband… and now you, who I l-love! It is so unjust… I’m going to lose you all…”

Rodolphus stared at her, and as she cried some of the coldness seemed to evaporate from his face. It did not escape him that she had mentioned her husband among the people she cared most about, but he did not say anything. He watched her quivering there in the darkness, trying not to involve himself, but he couldn’t let her cry like this when it was evidently causing her so much pain.

“There, there Cissa.” He said awkwardly, unsure how to act towards her, but wanting to ease her pain nonetheless. He reached out an arm towards her, but she twisted out of the reach of his hand.

She could not stand to be touched by the hands of Rodolphus… Those strong, masculine hands that could shelter her from anything… Those same hands that pushed her away so many times… And the same hands that surely touched her sister every night…

It made her sick to think of Rodolphus and her sister together, and was flooded with a mixture of rage and jealousy. She forced her mind away from the direction of all of the reasons that she resented her sister and tried to focus on Rodolphus, but she couldn’t even bring herself to look at him.

She twisted her fingers in her hands uneasily and avoided his gaze. She had so many things that she needed to tell and ask him, and yet she couldn’t get a single one of them past her throat. She was wasting time and she knew it… Bellatrix could be arriving at any moment, and what would happen when Lucius realized that she had left the house? But she had to say something… Something important… but what?”

“I never stopped loving you,” she whispered, still staring intensely at the floor, her hands now held frozen in front of her.

But again, Rodolphus said nothing. He had opened up to her for a few seconds, trying to comfort her, but she had pulled away from him, and she realized that was as bad as sealing her own fate, for he was once again withdrawing from the world… from her…

But she was surprised that he soon broke the silence, although not with words that she wanted to hear. “You should leave now.” His voice was not cold, but dry and emotionless, uncaring…

But Narcissa couldn’t leave. She dreaded returning home to the wrath of her husband and knew that if she did so this may well be the end of everything for her and Rodolphus – she may never see him again.

She could hear him sigh and shift his weight uncomfortably, “Narcissa… why did you come here? You know it is too late for this…”

Narcissa finally looked up at him, her eyes uncomprehending and pleading, “Is it?” She asked desperately, “Is it really? Can’t you still come back to me… Isn’t there still time?”

A pause, and then, “For some things… no.”

Narcissa stared at him, trying to take in what he was saying, but couldn’t handle it. She turned away from him, not able to even face him any more. She wanted desperately to be with him and knew that for years after this she would look back at this day when she had seen him last, and yet this was almost too much to endure.

She still loved him dearly, but seeing him like this – so cold, uncaring, and changed – was enough to break her heart. She couldn’t stand to look at him, even to be with him. He had changed so drastically that she was not sure that she knew him any more, but she couldn’t help but smile when she looked back at the times they once spent together.

“It’s funny…” she said slowly as she turned back to look at him.

“What’s funny?” She could tell, though he tried not to show it, that he was concentrating hard on what she was saying, which made her somehow feel like she had a stronger hold over him

“Oh, well…” she went on, “It is just that – who would have thought that we would end up here, standing on opposite sides of a collapsing wreck of a house, not looking at each other, and both wishing that things could be the way that they once were…”

She allowed herself to fade off, remembering everything that had ever happened between the two of them – the good and the bad. As she did she was sure that he was doing so as well. She remained silent in order to allow the guilt to get at him, and then spoke again.

“Since then I have tried to hold onto how things were… How we loved each other and how wonderful it was when we were alone together, and how I felt like a whole new person with you around… I have held faithfully onto these memories for years, but… But no matter how hard I try, I can’t make myself forget how you betrayed me, how you ran off and left me alone, how you were going behind my back with my sister the whole time… and – and how you married her!”

Silence greeted these words, and then…

“And how you married Lucius?”

Narcissa face turned considerably pale, “No… that was different.”

“Really?” he said, cocking an eyebrow at her. Narcissa immedietley knew that she had absolutely no argument against this and that he was sure to win, “You were seventeen years old. So now give me all of this stuff about you being faithful and loving again with a straight face... you disgust me.”

Narcissa stared at him at a loss for words, “No… You don’t understand…” But that was the problem – he understood perfectly well, and much to well for her to get away with this.

“Look, Rodolphus…” she began. She took a step towards him, but as she did so he backed out of her reach. But she could hardly blame him… She didn’t want to admit it, but in a way it was all her fault. If she hadn’t been so stupid…

“No, listen to me-” she pleaded, “I know I shouldn’t have done it… I was young, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into! I had you for so long, and when we graduated… I was frightened of being alone! And marriage to Lucius seemed so secure… With his money and family and his job… can you really blame me?”

Rodolphus said nothing at first, as if expecting her to come up with more excuses, and when she didn’t, he said sarcastically, “Well you have so far proved that you were foolish, scared, and greedy… Is there anything else you would like to add?”

Narcissa looked up at him imploringly, now completely unsure as to what path to take. Instead of trying to justify herself, she chose to attack her sister, “Rodolphus! You can’t stay with Bellatrix… You may have married her, but you have no idea what she is like. She doesn’t care about you… she is cruel skin deep and she… she only married you to punish me, I know it! She is that kind of a woman – that is what she does. She’ll trick you and break you down and then she will ruin you!”

It was too dark in the room for Narcissa to tell how Rodolphus had reacted to this, but she knew it couldn’t be good. Was it just her imagination, or had the atmosphere in the room just tightened?

There was a long pause in which Narcissa desperately wished that she could take this all back, and then Rodolphus spoke in the coldest voice that she had ever heard from him, “I am glad that I am joining the Death Eaters… Now if I’m lucky I’ll be able to see that pathetic excuse for a husband of yours get it good…”

Narcissa let out a gasp, “Oh Rodolphus, you don’t mean that!”

He laughed darkly, “Oh, but I do… And I thought you didn’t love him.”

“Well, I don’t-” she said, in one last desperate attempt to change his mind, “But… Oh Rodolphus dear, you musn’t do this!?”

“Do what?” There was an edge on his voice as if he was daring her to say it so that he could defy her even further.

“Any of this!” she cried, “Don’t you see? This isn’t just about me… I see the path you are heading down and I don’t want to lose you in that way. Bella will surely ruin you just as she ruins everything she comes in close contact with, and this… Dark Lord… Well, it is not going to lead to anything good! Please… if you just –”

But she was cut short by Rodulphus with a decisive shaking of his head, “I told you, Narcissa… It is too late.”

“But – what if it isn’t?” He was showing every sign of interrupting her, but she was determined to have her say, “It is only too late because we can’t face them all…But if we were to leave – no listen to me – we could run away! Far away from all of this. Leave Bella and Lucius behind along with all of our other nightmares… It would just be us together always and things could be just like they used to! Please Rodolphus, don’t put yourself through this – I beg you to come away with me…”

But Narcissa knew the answer even before she had finished speaking. And sure enough, he barely gave her enough time for her to finish and cast him an earnest glance before he once again shook his head decisively.

Silence spread between them like a thick fog misting up all that they once had in common, pushing them farther apart than before. They both felt as if they had nothing left to say to each other, and yet as if there was one thing more that needed to be said…

“So… this is it then?” Narcissa asked slowly.

Rodolphus nodded, “Yes. This is it.”

They stood, both so near each other and yet so extremely distant, each wishing that they could reach out and cradle the other. Narcissa could feel tears beginning to slide freely down her pale cheeks, but she did nothing to stop them and remained silent… She knew that Rodolphus would not cry – he never did. But the expression on his face was worse than a thousand tears.

Seeing him look like that was just too much for her. She began crying more and more, her sobs filling the empty room.

“Oh Cissa, don’t cry… please.” He rushed forward and, not knowing what to do next, wrapped his arms around her, embracing and comforting her. “Hush… I’m here.” He held her, rubbing his fingers soothingly through her hair as they swayed back and forth on the spot.

He wanted to do all that he could to comfort her. He didn’t know what it was she needed or wanted, for they had been apart for far too long, but he knew he had to give her something… some kind of hope…

They stood there, embracing each other, swaying on the spot, she crying into his shoulder. Slowly Rodolphus cupped her face in his hands and pulled her close… closer than they had been in years… closer to his heart, to his soul, to his lips… as her tears slowly evaporated from her eyes.

But at the last moment before they made contact she jerked her head to the side, his lips only roughly grazing her pale cheeks.

“What is it… Cissy?” he tried to sound consoling, but was frightened. That look in her eyes… of fear and rejection and sadness…

Without removing those silent eyes from him she backed up slowly, “I… I can’t. Not now that I know –”

She was not crying now, but she was making Rodolphus feel so guilty, so horrible, so unlovable that he almost wished she would start again.

But instead she continued to back away across the room, not breaking eye contact with him. Everything seemed to be happening in slow motion, and in addition to that his brain didn’t seem to be working properly anymore.

Before he had time to say a thing she was out of his arms reach, the door was opening, she was stepping out of it and out of his life, and then it was shut again.

The moment that the door clicked shut, leaving him alone in his pathetic life, he rushed to the window. There he could faintly make out her lone silhouette, drifting slowly and steadily down the street…

“No, Cissa – wait…” He knew that she could not hear him, and even if she could she would not return to him. She was gone and it was all his fault. He may never see her again in his life. He had thrown away the only true love he had ever known for her more seductive sister and a Dark Lord who promised a world without the love he had once known.

As she disappeared into the darkness he wondered how things would have been if he had chosen differently… He could be someplace far, far away from all of this war with his beautiful Narcissa, perhaps with a child… He would want to have a girl – and she would have Cissa’s hair. And whenever his wife was away he could take up his little girl in his arms and spin her around happily, showing her all of the joys of the beautiful world that her mother had once shown him…

But even as he stood there longing, he knew that he was dreaming of a happiness that would never be his. Perhaps one day Narcissa would have a child, and she would of course treasure and love that child above all else. But she would never again love him in the way that she once had… before he had betrayed her and forced her to walk away like this.

There was nothing he could do or say now that could make her return. He had already done the damage and she now knew how things stood.

For a moment he considered bursting out of the house and running after her and forcing her to come back to him.

But even as these crazy thoughts filled his mind he shook his head and whispered, “For some things… it is too late.”

And with that she faded from his eyes, faded from his street, faded from his life… But she never once faded from his heart.

Thank you! For reading my story and not backing out. I would greatly appriciate it if you were to leave me a lovely little review, and hopefully check back soon for other stories by me.

And for now - Ta!